Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Donald Trump matters in the world of wine. Virginia has him.

Donald Trump matters in the world of wine. Virginia has him. And last night it showed why Donald Trump matters in the world of wine! Donald Trump’s entrance into the world of wine was more happenstance than planned strategic corporate move. Trump saw an opportunity to help out a friend and realize an excellent business situation when he bought the Kluge estate in Virginia. He could brand some wine with his name and he could save his friend from an otherwise ignominious fate. He did both in one fell swoop.

I cannot lie, as a New Yorker, especially one involved in wine, something struck me both as odd, and with a twinge of jealousy when I walked into the Trump Tower on 5th Avenue last night. After smiling at the Orange County Chopper on display in the lobby, I came across the Virginia is for Lovers and Virginia Wine banners that formed a phalanx to the entrance of the party. Trump, the ultimate New Yorker, was here to promote of all things – Virginia wine!

Patricia Kluge

All the dazzle of Trump Tower was harnessed by Annette Boyd and the Virginia Wine Marketing group, as the flags formed a narrow hall that whisked one down stairs. Gorgeous brass and glass display cases featured Virginia oysters and the carving station had a warm glow as they dished out Virginia Smithfield ham. And there, lined up in a row, were four tables filled with Virginia wines, stocked with their owners or winemakers right there to chat with the press. And Patricia Kluge, was featured on the other side with an array of sparkling wines. The ciders, wines, and sparkling wines were all of good to great quality. The producers are solid, quality producers, who produce excellent and consistent product. Reliable producers. That’s all any region can ask for. And the state’s wine reputation is growing.

Virginia Governor McDonnell and his wife, the First Lady of Wine, Maureen, were there to promote Virginia for tourism, for wine, for agriculture, and as a place to shoot movies for the film industry. After the two of them gushed for five minutes each, Mr. Trump, the star of The Apprentice, and possibly the most famous land developer in the United States, gushed about Virginia, their wine industry, and why Virginia is such a fantastic place to grow wine.

Maureen McDonell

And the press was there. Wine Spectator. Wine Enthusiast. Local newspapers. It was a spectacle. Eric Trump and Don Trump were mobbed by well wishers and reporters alike. The full glamour press of the Trump family was on display.

Virginia Gov. McDonnell

No other eastern wine region has someone with Trump’s star power. Yes, New York has Michael Lynne, the producer of the ring trilogy, but he is not the promoter that Trump is. Trump will put his wines in all his restaurants, and quickly push Virginia wines to the forefront. It will behoove his investment. And it will be a boon to the Virginia area.

Eric Trump

Yes, it was a staged event. And Trump trumpeted the virtues of the state’s wine industry and it’s leadership. And it garnered everything they were hoping it would. Congrats to Virginia!